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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Thunder Even Up Series With Win Over Alaska

04/06/2010 11:18 PM

FIT TO BE TIED
Thunder send series back to Stockton tied, 1-1 in four goal third period rally

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FINAL STATS: BOX SCORE
AUDIO: Game highlights


WASILLA, Alaska - A four goal effort in the third period, stamping a string of three unanswered goals, helped the Stockton Thunder sink the host the Alaska Aces in a 5-2 victory in Game 2 of the National Conference Quarterfinals of the 2010 Kelly Cup Playoffs at the Menard Memorial Sports Center on Tuesday.

The Thunder, who tied the best-of-five series, 1-1, return home to Stockton Arena for Game 3 on Friday. Forwards Kelly Czuy (1g-1a), Oren Eizenman (two assists), defensemen Anthony Aiello (1g-1a) and Jordan Bendfeld (two assists) all led the offense with two points apiece while goaltender Andrew Perugini made 28 saves.

STOCKTON VS. ALASKA - NATIONAL CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS
Game 1: Stockton 3 at Alaska 4
Game 2: Stockton 5 at Alaska 2
Game 3: Alaska at Stockton - Friday, April 9 - 7:30 p.m. (Stockton Arena)
Game 4: Alaska at Stockton - Saturday, April 10 - 7:30 p.m. (Stockton Arena)
Game 5: Alaska at Stockton - Monday, April 12 - 7:00 p.m. (Stockton Arena) *
* If necessary


"It's a huge win from the standpoint we needed to come up here and gain a split, giving us a chance going back to our own home ice," said Thunder head coach Matt Thomas. "I'm proud of the guys for how they responded."

The Thunder, who handed Alaska their fourth Game 2 loss in franchise history, improved to 2-3 in Game 2 situations.

Following a scoreless first period where the Thunder owned a 9-5 lead in shots on goal, Alaska responded with several scoring chances in front of Perugini but were thwarted on a diving glove save at the doorstep on the Aces' Jarrett Konkle with over six minutes into the period.

The pressure continued and after Alaska killed a 5-on-3 penalty kill, Ryan Turek sent the partisan crowd into eruption with his first goal of the postseason with 8:41 left when he corralled Brock McBride's feed at the left circle and slipped a wrist shot through traffic for a 1-0 lead.

The Thunder had a breakaway by Kelly Czuy negated on an offside call but continued to press and finally knotted the score, 1-1 on a Czuy shorthanded goal with less than 33.7 seconds left when he blasted a shapshot past Billy Sauer from the right wing.

Marquardt, who had fired eight shots in the game already, finally broke through with his first goal of the postseason to give the Thunder a 2-1 lead and stunning the Aces home crowd with 2:26 gone in the third period when his wrist shot from the right wing beat Sauer off the rush.

A power-play goal by Caudron, who knocked in a rebound at the right goal post, put the Thunder ahead, 3-1 with 13:46 remaining on his second goal of the playoffs after Sauer stopped Czuy's shot from the left circle.

Alaska crawled back into the game on a Bryan Miller goal from between the hash marks just 2:10 later, cutting the deficit to one.

Yet, Stockton restored the two-goal gap with Pitton's first goal of the playoffs, coming with 4:34 left when he re-directed Bendfeld's drive from the right point to the back of the net.

An empty-net goal by Aiello with 24.4 seconds remaining sealed the game, when he hit the back of the net on a 190-foot heave from his own defensive zone, completing the rally.

"We talked about momentum as a team and how it helps you in the playoffs," said Thomas. "We created a ton of it with a great goal at the end of the second. Then we came out with the right energy and had guys like Pitton and Marquardt scoring while our power play steps up. We did the little things that were needed to win and rally from a tie game, on the road, in the third period."

Sauer was tagged with the loss, making 26 saves for Alaska.

NOTES: The Thunder scratched Riley Emmerson (inactive list), Brett Hemingway (inactive list), Trevor Hunt (inactive list), Justin DaCosta (healthy) and Colin Hemingway (injury, day-to-day) ... the only other Game 2 win in Thunder history was at Ontario last year, a 6-5 win in the first round - Stockton went onto win the series in seven games ... the Thunder went 1-for-4 on the power-play and kept Alaska sealed at an 0-for-3 clip ... Czuy's multi-point game gave him 19 points in 15 career first rounds games with Stockton and Las Vegas.

The series moves to Stockton Arena for the remainder of the series and game three, between the Thunder and Aces, is at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. The game can be viewed online exclusively at www.stocktonthunder.com, courtesy of B2 Networks (audio is free of charge).

The Thunder was voted "Best Local Sports Team" by readers of the San Joaquin Magazine, has led the ECHL in attendance for four consecutive seasons and drew 223,854 fans to Stockton Arena in 2008-09. Season Tickets for 2009-10 are on sale now. For more information about tickets, merchandise, or other inquiries contact the Stockton Thunder offices at (209) 373-1500 or visit http://www.stocktonthunder.com/  

THREE STARS:
1. STK - 34 Kelly Czuy
2. STK - 7 Anthony Aiello
3. STK - 9 Oren Eizenm

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